Philadelphia Phillies: 4 In-House Names to Replace Kyle Kendrick in the Rotation
It has always been known that, when you go somewhere, it is not polite to "overstay your welcome." Well, unfortunately for the Philadelphia Phillies, pitcher Kyle Kendrick does not seem like the courteous type.
It should be obvious to all fans, media and anyone else that Kendrick has overstayed his welcome in Philadelphia. It is time for the team to cut their losses and move forward with a new pitcher to anchor the rotation.
In the past few years, Kendrick has been given chance after chance to stick with the big league club. He has been used as a spot starter and long reliever in the bullpen with some success, but when it comes to cracking the starting staff, KK just can't seem to put it together.
That's not to say he's been completely useless with the Phillies. He has had good seasons in the past, including a stellar rookie campaign in 2007 which helped push the Phils into the playoffs. Kendrick went 10-4, winning 13 of his 18 starts. In the postseason, he was the No. 2 pitcher on the roster.
Ever since then, however, Kendrick has been up and down. He has been to the minors and back more times than one should care to count, and has never been particularly effective.
In all his years though, he has not been as bad as he has in 2012.
Kendrick's season, as has been his career, is marked with incredible inconsistency. He is 2-8 on the season with 52 strikeouts and a 5.35 ERA. The 2012 season also saw him throw his first ever complete game shutout.
With as many issues as the Phillies have had with their starting staff this year, they need to supplant someone in the fifth spot that can give them consistency and a chance to win—something Kendrick has not done in recent starts.
If they hope to make the playoffs, they need to seek pitching help from someone else, perhaps an arm in the minor leagues.
When the Phillies finally realize Kendrick is hurting this team's chances at making the playoffs, the first call they should make is to Lehigh Valley, to promote RHP Tyler Cloyd.
Selected in the 18th round of the 2008 MLB Amateur Draft, Cloyd has made the transition from each level of the Phils' farm system seamless and with relative ease.
In 2009, his first season at the A level, Cloyd went 12-9 with both Lakewood and Clearwater. He was rewarded for his efforts with a promotion to Reading at the end of the 2010 season, where he pitched two games and had a 4.00 ERA.
Cloyd began the 2011 season with Clearwater but was quickly promoted to Reading once again. This time, however, Cloyd's pitching had improved even more. With the R-Phils, Cloyd went 6-3 with a 2.78 ERA.
Continuing to climb the minor league ladder, Cloyd was promoted to AAA Lehigh Valley after a 3-0 start with Reading where he only gave up five runs in 25 innings.
Moving up to AAA has not affected Cloyd in the slightest. He is 8-1 in 12 starts with a 2.11 ERA and was named to the roster for the AAA All-Star Game.
Cloyd, who was the Phillies' minor league pitcher of the month for the month of April, has also emerged as one of the premier pitchers in the International League. He leads the league in WHIP and is second in both ERA and wins.
When there was talk of trading Joe Blanton and then again when both Roy Halladay and Vance Worley went on the DL, Cloyd's name was thrown around as a possible replacement.
Now, with Kendrick not proving himself, it is time to give someone else a chance, and with Cloyd already on the Phils' radar, he could very well be making his major league debut in the coming months.
If for some reason Cloyd does not get the promotion, the next best name for the Phils to go with is one of the named, 'Baby Aces' in RHP Jonathan Pettibone.
The 21-year-old was also selected in the 2008 Amateur Draft with the Phils' third-round pick.
Pettibone, someone who the Phils are grooming to be one of the pitchers of the future once Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee are out of the rotation, has steadily risen through the minors, one year at a time.
In 2008, he pitched one inning for the Gulf Coast Phillies and got the loss. In 2009, he was promoted to the NY-Penn league where he started eight games and had a 2-4 record. In 2010, he moved on to Lakewood and then to Clearwater in 2011.
Each year the Phillies have promoted Pettibone to the next stage of the minor league development, and each year he has shown the ability to adapt to the more difficult hitters he has faced along the way.
Spending the 2012 season with Reading, Pettibone is off to a fine start. He is 7-5 with a 3.27 ERA for a Reading team that is really reaping the rewards of all three baby aces in the rotation.
If everything holds to form, Pettibone will start 2013 with Lehigh Valley and could crack the Phils' starting staff in 2014 at the earliest.
Don't be surprised however if Pettibone makes his major league debut sooner, perhaps as a replacement for Kendrick, but more likely as a September call-up.
Another pitcher that could soon find himself among the Phillies' Major League staff is baby ace No. 2, Reading ace No. 2 and Phillies representative in the All-Star Futures Game, RHP Julio Rodriguez.
Rodriguez has been one of the Phils' best prospects since his arrival via the 8th round of the 2008 draft. Like the rest of the baby aces, Rodriguez began with the Gulf Coast Phillies. In three years of minor league service time, he worked his way through the minor leagues, impressing at each level along the way.
In 2012, Rodriguez joined Pettibone and Trevor May in Reading, where he has since posted solid numbers. He is 5-1 with a 3.23 ERA. He has given up 68 hits in 83.2 innings pitched and has added another 85 strike outs courtesy of a solid curveball that he has developed into a true out-pitch and a plus fastball clocked in between 88-91 MPH on average.
The success of the baby aces is not lost on Reading, as they are doing this year what the three aces in Philadelphia did in 2011.
Currently in first place in the Eastern League at 46-35, Rodriguez is just one pitcher who has helped them to solid wins. He has gotten better with each start including his last three where, in 18 innings pitched, he has not yielded a run.
The list would not be complete without the third and final baby ace, RHP Trevor May. May, who was also part of the 2008 draft class, has risen the ranks and has become one of the Phillies' top prospects.
Going into 2012, May was ranked 69th on Baseball America's list of top prospects. The highest Phillie on the list, most are estimating that May's arrival to the big leagues will come by 2014.
It is no coincidence that by 2014, this team will likely be more than ready for one of their developed baby aces to take their place in the talented rotation.
Off to a torrid 5-0 start in April, there was anticipation that, if the team traded Joe Blanton to bolster their injury-ridden lineup, May could jump past Lehigh Valley and straight to the majors.
Those thoughts, however, were squashed as the need for Blanton, coupled with May's recent struggles, have kept him in AA Reading where he continues to develop.
While there is still a strong chance May is on the starting staff come 2014, it is unlikely he will join the Phillies any sooner.
His numbers have been good despite a few hiccups this season. His biggest upside, however, is still yet to come as he continues to work on his pitches and improving his skills on the mound.
A sign of May's struggles has been that his strikeout numbers are down. He has been so proficient in that area, striking out 11.88 batters per nine innings pitched in his career. For May, it is hopeful that this is just a slump and not growing pains evidencing that he is not quite ready for the AAA promotion that is expected for 2013.
Whatever it turns out to be, there is no denying that May has a lot of upside and a lot of time still to find his way onto the Phillies' pitching staff.